To the Editor:

I am responding to your invitation to add to the thank-yous published in the January 22 Reporter to recognize other "heroic departments," and also to remind everyone about those who are still experiencing difficulties in the aftermath of the storm of the century. Also, thanks to the Reporter for producing the ice storm issue so quickly -- it was great!

A group of dedicated administrative staff in Payroll, ISR, Human Resources and Accounting braved the elements and somewhat challenging working conditions (who needs a stair master after climbing all those stairs!?) to come in to issue salary advances to 7,900 permanent staff.

The University and this persevering group of administrative staff provided us with the resources to meet our usual and extraordinary financial commitments. In addition to my own mortgage and daycare costs (which remained the same in spite of the fact that I couldn't live in my house and our daycare was closed), as a "refugee family" during the 7-day period we were affected, my daughter, husband and I certainly incurred other expenses for acknowledgement gifts for the friends and family that put us up and put up with us(!).

Other colleagues have incurred unusual costs for plumbers, electricians, loss of refrigerated and frozen food, generators, and damage to property not covered by insurance. We were indeed very fortunate in only forfeiting a bit of vacation/personal time for part of the blackout.

In contrast, we would be derelict not to recognize, acknowledge and sincerely thank our large contingent of casual staff (including students) who are now buckling down to help McGill "catch up," while making up time and lost income for themselves. Because these staff members are paid hourly, their paycheques for the blackout period (so soon after the Christmas break) are, in several cases, too meagre to meet their financial commitments for the past month.

We need to be sensitive to McGill's human cost as well as to the physical and environmental costs resulting from this storm by helping to provide "emergency relief" in whatever way we can to our colleagues who are experiencing financial problems or continued power outages.

Debbie Mercier
Development and Alumni Relations